Are Stimulants the Only Way to Treat ADHD?
My son has symptoms of ADHD, and his healthcare provider suggested that we try putting him on a stimulant medication to see if it helps. I'm concerned about giving my child this type of drug. Are stimulants the only way to treat ADHD? How does ADHD medication help?
There are several treatment options for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Stimulants are some of the most commonly used and most effective treatments, but it is important to work with your healthcare provider to find the treatment that is best for you or your child.
Behavior therapy for those with ADHD and their family members, either with or without medication, can be helpful. In behavior therapy, a mental health professional works with individuals to develop techniques to change problem behaviors, cope with stressful situations, gain social skills, and work on other problem areas.
It is not clear exactly how stimulants produce these effects. They are thought to work by increasing the level of a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine.
If it is determined that medication is appropriate, a stimulant such as methylphenidate is usually prescribed. Stimulants have been shown to improve attention while decreasing distractibility and impulsive behavior in up to 80 percent of those with ADHD.
Nonstimulant medications are also available for ADHD. It is not entirely clear how exactly nonstimulants work for this condition. Approved nonstimulant ADHD medications include: